The president of a midsized company planned to introduce a new volunteer program to her employees at the company’s annual awards dinner. Here’s the message she started with: Here at and Company, we have a commitment to helping not only each other but others in our community. The company’s record is one of corporate community reaching out to the large community. I know you will all become involved in the upcoming community events. The president realized her message was dull and dry and that it would hardly inspire anyone to get involved. After thinking about several ways of making her message more vivid, she decided to add a narrative. Here’s the revised message: We at Clark and Company have always believed in reaching out to our community. We may find that frustrating, at times, when we work hard and don’t see the results. But let us remember the old story of a lone man walking on a beach that’s covered with tens of thousands of starfish. Washed ashore by the tide, the fish were stranded and dying by the minute. The man picked up one starfish and tossed it back into the sea, and then he tossed another and another as he made his way down the beach. A passerby expressed puzzlement and asked, “How can you possibly do any good by throwing only a few starfish back, when you can see the beach is covered with them for miles? How can it make a difference?” Tossing back yet another starfish, the man replied, “It makes a difference to this one.” The company president’s speech was so compelling that her employees eagerly signed up for the new volunteer program. They also came away from the event with a renewed sense of satisfaction in their company and its president. Can you think of a narrative that relates a similar message about getting involved or making a difference? You might want to be on the lookout for such stories in the newspaper, on television, and in religious and inspirational materials for use in some future presentation of your own.
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